Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal Speak About Doping - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal Speak About Doping

Ivan Pasquariello

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Ubi Tennis is already in London interviewing the top 8 contenders for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also spoke about doping following the scandal that recently invested Russia. Do tennis players believe tennis is doing enough to tackle doping? Let’s see wha they said….

 

 

 

Cesare Alfieri from Ubi Tennis is already at the O2 Arena in London, soon joined by the rest of the crew to present our readers with the best possible coverage of the last ATP event of the year: the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The stars of the racquet have already arrived in London and met with the media on Friday, in the usual pre-tournament press conference. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal talked about their feeling approaching the last event of their season, but also speak out about hot topics such as doping in tennis and the controls organised to grant a clean professional athleticism.

The issue of doping in sports was recently raised again after a WADA report accused Russian athletics for poor control and possible proof hiding in order to grant athletes’ participation at the 2012 London Olympics. Is tennis controlled enough?

Roger Federer revealed not to be too surprised when hearing the news of doping accusations addressed to Russia. The 17-time Grand Slam champion believes there is a lot more that can be done to grant a clean sport. “Where are the anti-doping controls” Roger admitted asking himself once after playing a final on the tour. It seems aggressive check-ups aren’t as aggressive as it is being told, or as they should be?

It was then time for Novak Djokovic to comment on the news. Clearly hearing what happened has to be considered a “sad page for sports” according to Novak, who however believes the fight against doping in tennis is doing well and athletes are often tested. The Serb attended 3 or 4 extra tests outside of competition this year. Also, athletes are supposed to always inform the anti-doping agency of their moves and their location. Failing to report a move and a stay at a different location leads to a first warning. Three warnings mean athletes can be suspended, as it happened for instance with Novak’s compatriot Viktor Troicki.

Federer thinks tennis is not fighting against doping enough. Djokovic believes the sport is on the right track. What about Rafael Nadal?

The Spaniard believes a solution would be to have the data on tests and the frequency of testing made public. That would increase transparency and allow others to believe whether it is enough or testing should be further increased. To devote part of the prize money to fund anti-doping wasn’t an idea Rafael was crazy about, contrarily to 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who thinks the fight to doping could use some extra money to increase efficiency.

Speaking of tournament-related topics, Rafael Nadal clenched on his idea of changing the surface of the ATP finals to red clay at least once every 15 years. Djokovic said he wouldn’t mind to have the Finals moving around the world to use the tournament as a marketing tool to promote the sport to new markets.

Are players tired of playing at the O2 Arena in London?

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(EXCLUSIVE) Francesca Schiavone On Jannik Sinner, Future Plans

Ubitennis catches up with the former world No.4 who is currently at Wimbledon.

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Almost four years have passed since Francesca Schiavone retired from tennis after an illustrious career. 

 

A popular figure on the WTA Tour, the Italian is best known for winning the 2010 French Open, as well as reaching the final of the same tournament a year later. Remembered for her one-handed backhand, her career spanned a total of 22 seasons. She was the first woman from her country to break into the world’s top five and made a staggering 70 Grand Slam main draw appearances over a 20-year period.

Enjoying retirement, Schiavone now has the luxury of watching other players play. Something she is doing at this year’s Wimbledon Championships where she is also playing in the Legends event. 

“I have great memories (of Wimbledon),” Schiavone tells Ubitennis. “I walked all the way around the venue and it was like ‘wow.’ I wasn’t able to do this before and now I can do it. I can follow Many younger players, not just the main ones. Wimbledon is very special, I am enjoying it.”

The center of attention for Italian tennis this year at The All England Club has been Jannik Sinner. The world No.13 reached the quarter-finals of the tournament on only his second appearance. Sinner was on the verge of creating a huge upset after leading world No.1 Novak Djokovic by two sets before losing in five. If he had won, he would have been the youngest Wimbledon semi-finalist since 2007. 

Despite the disappointment, Schiavone is confident her compatriot is heading in the right direction. He is coached on the Tour by Simone Vagnozzi who has previously mentored 2018 French Open semi-finalist  Marco Cecchinato, as well as Stefano Travaglia.

“I think Jannik is growing already,” she said. “He is adding many things such as going to the net. He is working on his serve and I think he is doing a very good job improving.”

Italian tennis is currently thriving, especially on the men’s Tour with Matteo Berrettini also making waves. At present, there are nine players from the country in the world’s top 100 – five on the ATP Tour and four on the WTA Tour. 

Now Schiavone wants to help nurture the next generation of players. Revealing to Ubitennis she has a project underway in her native Milan. 

“I’m working on it. I’m going to open some courts in Milan to give opportunities to younger players. then from that follows other things,” she said. 
“I can’t say anything more now about it at the moment.”

Schiavone already has coaching experience after briefly working alongside former player Caroline Wozniacki back in 2019 during the clay swing. 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Ladies’ Semifinals

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Ons Jabeur during her quarterfinal victory on Tuesday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Thursday’s ladies’ singles semifinals are full of inspiring storylines, featuring the 2019 champion alongside three debutantes at this stage of a Major.  Simona Halep is on a 12-match win streak at The Championships, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina had previously only reached the quarterfinals at a Slam, and have made history by becoming the first players from their countries to reach a Slam semifinal.  And remarkably, 34-year-old mother-of-two Tatjana Maria had never been beyond the third round at a Major, and was on a nine-match losing streak at Slams prior to this fortnight. 

 

Also on Thursday, the gentlemen’s doubles semifinals will be played, as well as the mixed doubles championship match.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:30pm on Centre Court

These are two good friends who describe each other as frequent barbecue buddies.  They also possess two of the sport’s most eclectic styles, with plenty of slices mixed with surges of power.  But in this matchup, Jabeur is clearly the favorite.  Ons has become the No.2 player in the world, with an outstanding record of 35-9 this season.  She was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, and is an undefeated 10-0 on grass in 2022, and 20-2 on this surface since last year.

Maria missed the first six months of the 2021 season due to giving birth to her second child.  She came into this year ranked 284th in the world, yet she’s accumulated 36 match wins at all levels.  As a qualifier, she won a WTA title on clay this past April in Bogota.  And despite her lack of results at Majors, with a career record of 12-34 in main draws, Tatjana has fought her way into her first Slam semifinal, with four three-set victories.  In three of those matches, she came back from a set down.  And she also won three of them by a third-set score of 7-5, even saving two match points against Jelena Ostapenko.

They’ve only played once at tour-level, with Maria prevailing in straight sets five years ago in Linz.  But in 2022, Jabeur is the far more accomplished player, especially at Majors.  And her all-court skills outmatch those of Tatjana.  As long as Ons does not succumb to the pressure of being a strong favorite in her first Slam semifinal, Jabeur should comfortably advance to Saturday’s championship match.


Simona Halep (16) vs. Elena Rybakina (17) – Second on Centre Court

Halep has been on a tear in her last few matches.  On Monday, she allowed fourth-seeded Paula Badosa only three games.  On Wednesday, Amanda Anisimova was only able to win six.  However, both of those opponents already had previous poor results against Simona, as their games do not match up well with that of the two-time Major champion.  The same cannot be said for Rybakina.

While Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, their last two encounters have been extremely right.  Two years ago in Dubai, Simona required a third-set tiebreak to survive.  And at last year’s US Open, she prevailed 6-3 in the third.  The big difference between the set Rybakina won in New York, and the two sets she lost, was her winner-to-error ratio.  In the set she won, those numbers were equal.  In the sets she lost, she struck nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners.

While reducing her error count will be key for Rybakina, so will continuing to serve well.  In her last two rounds alone, Elena as struck 21 aces and only one double fault.  Rybakina leads the WTA ace count this season, though Halep remains of the sport’s best returners.  And Simona’s serve has improved significantly over the last few seasons.

Experience may be the key factor on Thursday, which is obviously a huge advantage for Halep.  This is her ninth Major semifinal, and her third at Wimbledon, while this Rybakina’s first at any Slam.  Also Centre Court itself will be new territory for Elena, who has never played on this court in her career.  And based on Halep’s current form, the 2019 champion should be favored to return to the final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk (2) vs. Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur – Skupski and Krawczyk are the defending champions, while Ebden and Stosur were finalists at last year’s Australian Open.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (1) vs. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell (14) – Ram and Salisbury and two-time Major champions as a team.  Ebden and Purcell were finalists at this year’s Australian Open.  That’s the event where these teams last met, with the Australians prevailing in the semifinals.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (6) – Mektic and Pavic are the defending champions, while Cabal and Farah won this event in 2019.  Cabal Farah are 2-0 against Mektic and Pavic this season.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Will Rafael Nadal Withdraw From Wimbledon?

Will he play or not? What clues did we learn from Nadal’s press conference?

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image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

The blockbuster semi-final showdown between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios is in serious danger of not happening. 

 

Both players came through their quarter-final matches on Wednesday at The All England Club but concerns have been raised over Nadal’s health. The Spaniard took a medical timeout during the second set for treatment on his abdomen. It is unclear as to how long he has been suffering from the issue but he was seen wearing tape in the area in his previous match on Wednesday.

During his marathon four-hour five-set win over Taylor Fritz, members of Nadal’s own family signaled to him to retire but the stubborn former world No.1 refused to do so. Instead, he produced a gutsy win. Whilst it is admirable for Nadal to fight through the pain, was it the right thing to do?

“I am used to holding pain and playing with problems,” said Nadal who also has a chronic foot problem. “Knowing that, when I feel something like I felt, something is not going the proper way in my abdomen.’
“I had these feelings for a couple of days. Without a doubt, today was the worst day. There Has been an important increase of pain and limitation.”

The frank admission from the 36-year-old places his future at Wimbledon this year in the balance. On Thursday he will undergo a medical scan to establish the extent of the problem. Those results will dictate if he will continue playing in the tournament. 

“I can’t give you a clear answer because if I gave you a clear answer and tomorrow another thing happens, I will be a liar,” Nadal replied when asked about the probability of him playing.
‘The decision at the end – all the decisions – are the player’s decision, but at the same time I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way.’
“More important than winning Wimbledon, is health.”
He added. 

The root cause of how Nadal got the injury in the first place is not known publicly. Wimbledon is the first grass-court event he has played in three years. However, he denied the possibility of the two being linked in any way.

“The level of tennis, if we put away the problems, the feeling that I am having with the ball with my hand is honestly great. I am feeling myself playing very well,” he said.
“Abdominal (injuries) is not a thing that comes to play on grass. Can happen on any surface.”

The last time Nadal withdrew from an upcoming match was at the 2019 Paris Masters. The last time he has done so at a major was the 2016 French Open. 

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